Trust is the core building block of all relationships. And many donors do not trust the organizations they give to or the people they relate to in those organizations.
I’ve been wondering why.
And then it dawned on me that as MGOs, Development Directors and CEOs of non-profits, we don’t spend enough time looking at what it is about us, our systems, and our organizations that has broken trust with our donors. And we are paying a heavy price for it.
This reality, coupled with a wonderful book by Stephen Covey that I have been reading on trust, has motivated me to write this six-part series on the role of trust in major gift fundraising. I suggest you get this book and put its principles into practice. It will change the way you manage yourself and your major gift work.
In this blog, Jeff and I have consistently written about the importance of living a life of authenticity, integrity and congruity.
We regularly hold each other accountable in these areas, calling each other out on any attempt to manipulate, hide or deceive. It is painful, at times, but we welcome it. Why? Because it produces relationships of trust. And trust is the glue that holds all relationships together.
It’s interesting that many of our good colleagues in major gift fundraising believe the path to getting the money is simple: just go for it! Reach out and get it! Grab it! And they are forced into this behavior either through a belief that it is the right way to get the money or because a manager has led them down that path.
This approach is wrong and hurtful. It ruins relationships and breaks down trust. And while it may result in getting some money in the short term, it compromises the relationship with the donors and hurts the long-term ability of the MGO to secure the funds for the cause.
This is why Jeff and I keep talking about this subject – we need to get back to building trust with donors. And it is not easy, as you will see in the coming posts on this topic, because many organizations and their leaders are operating in a manner that destroys trust vs. building it.
I think there’s a cure for this malady and that is what I intend to address in this series.
Here is where we are going over the next five posts:
- It begins with self-trust – a look within, using the principles of Stephen Covey’s book, to examine how to get things right with ourselves before we reach out to others.
- Building trust in your donor relationships – ways to build trust with your good donors and what to avoid.
- Building trust in your organization – a look at the key ways non-profits destroy trust among their staff and how to get back to building a culture of trust.
- How building trust affects your reputation in the marketplace – It is amazing how WHO we are – that would be we as persons as well as we in the aggregate, i.e., our organizations – affects how others think about us. I have some stories to tell about the conflict between a leader’s behavior in the organization and his desire for a good reputation in the marketplace.
- Restoring lost trust – Goodness, how it hurts when trust is broken! How do we get back to a better place when a donor has lost trust in us?
So, stay tuned. This will be a good journey. And trust me, it will help you uncover new ways to build trust with your good donors.